A class action trial filed on january 9 accused 16 major US universities, including Vanderbilt, illegally colluded to limit student financial aid. The costume was deposit in Federal Court for the Northern District of Illinois by three firms jointly representing five alumni from several schools, including Vanderbilt.
The 16 defendants are or have already been part of the 568 Group Presidents, which jointly developed a “Consensual methodology”In 2003 to determine a formula for determining the demonstrated needs of their undergraduate applicants. The group meets several times a year to discuss the calculations, according to their website. The trial does not say why all members of the group are not defendants.
The universities Claim that this group is protected under Section 568 of the American School Improvement Act 1994 (the “568 Exemption“), which protects higher education institutions from violations of antitrust laws if they operate with a Politics for national students. The antitrust exemption is expected to expire in September 2022, unless it is renewed by Congress.
However, the plaintiffs argue that these institutions are not protected by this exemption because at least nine defendants failed to apply a completely blind-to-need admission process by allegedly favoring the children of past or future wealthy donors and donors. other applicants not eligible for needs-based assistance such as as well as to be aware of the needs of applicants on the waiting list.
Along with Vanderbilt, these defendants are Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Georgetown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame and University of Pennsylvania. .
According to the lawsuit, the other seven defendants – Brown University, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, Cornell University, Emory University, Rice University, and Yale University – “may or may not” be blind to need but are still guilty for being. heard with the ten other institutions and learned of their violations.
Alleging that universities are excluded from protection under Exemption 568, the lawsuit argues that the group is breaking antitrust laws by allegedly trying to reduce or eliminate Price competition within the group and commit to “registration management», A process that integrates admissions and budgetary considerations.
“As a result of this conspiracy, the net price of attendance by recipients of financial aid in the schools of the defendants was artificially inflated,” the lawsuit said. “Over nearly two decades, the defendants overcharged more than 170,000 financial aid recipients by at least hundreds of millions of dollars.”
According to former deputy director of admissions Kim Struglinski during an undergraduate admission in April 2018 waiting list FAQ blog, Vanderbilt “reserve[s] the right to be aware of needs when admitting students on the waiting list. Struglinski is no longer employee by Vanderbilt in February 2019.
Gordon Gee, who was Chancellor of Vanderbilt from 2000 to 2007, Recount the Chronicle of higher education in 2019 that “any president on “truth serum” would concede that, in rare cases, donor relationships make a difference in admissions. Gee is now president of West Virginia University, which is not part of the 568 Group.
“As president, I had a number of quoted ‘windows’ that I could use for very specific reasons to support a student’s candidacy,” Gee said. “I can’t remember how many I had – six or ten, something like that. And I haven’t used them very often, but I have.
Gee, Struglinski, the Office of Financial Aid, the Office of the General Counsel and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hustler.
Lawsuit Blames Bodies of “Usually Rich” and “Privileged” Undergraduates populations defendants, such as to analyse in a 2012 New York Times article related to the trial. The article notes that the median family income of Vanderbilt undergraduates at the time was $ 204,500, and 23% of undergraduates were from the top 1% of the national income distribution. According to the article, Vanderbilt was ranked fourth out of 2,395 other universities included in the report with the highest share of students among the richest 1%.
“Elite private universities like the defendants are the guardians of the American dream,” the lawsuit says. “The burden of Cartel 568’s extra costs falls particularly on low- and middle-income families who struggle to afford the cost of a college education and to be successful for their children. “
Undergraduates, alumni, and anyone else who has paid tuition on behalf of students since 2003 may be eligible to join the lawsuit as plaintiffs by completing the form. form on the “568 Cartel Lawsuit” website. Michael Maerlander (’19) and Brittany Tatiana Weaver (’07) are two of Vanderbilt’s former plaintiffs. Maerlander directed The Hustler’s inquiries to one of the companies, Roche freedman. A spokesperson for the companies responded with litigation documents for the case. Weaver did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hustler.
Vanderbilt joined the 568 Presidents Group in 1998 and began implementing the consensus methodology in 2003, until he retired from the group in 2020. The complainants allege that the determinants of the net attendance price of Vanderbilt, including all currently enrolled students except the Class of 2025, was created while Vanderbilt was in Group 568.
Other universities including Penn, Brown, UChicago and Emory also left Group 568. Yale left the group in 2007 but returned later in 2018. Additionally, Rice retired from the group in 2009, but is returned later in 2017.
“By leaving Group 568, Yale is now free to give families more help than they would have received with the consensus methodology,” said Caesar Storlazzi, former director of student financial services at Yale. noted, before Yale returns to the group.
Vanderbilt enjoys a financial aid policy which meets 100% of a family’s demonstrated needs and has been ranked 5th among private universities nationwide for best financial aid by Princeton Review.
spokesperson for the university of Brown, Yale and CalTech said their university financial aid systems do not break any laws.
“The complaint against Brown has no merit and Brown is willing to go to great lengths to make it clear,” Brown spokesman Brian Clark wrote in an email to The Brown Daily Herald. “Brown is fully committed to making admissions decisions for US undergraduate applicants regardless of the ability to afford tuition fees, and we are fully meeting the demonstrated financial needs of the students who enroll.”
This article will be updated as more information becomes available.